There are usually thought to be two phases to Robert Palmer's career: an earlier one running from 1974 to 1983, when he explored New Orleans second-line funk and reggae, backed by members of Little Feat and the Meters and turned out a series of critically acclaimed, modestly successful recordings, and a later one, from 1985 on, when he rode his good looks, some high-fashion videos, and some simplistic hard rock/pop to a series of big hits on his own and with the Power Station. This two-CD set responds to that view by devoting its first disc to the earlier phase and its second disc to the later one. Palmer switched record companies along the way, too, but Hip-O is known for its willingness to license material from other labels, and 15 of the 20 tracks on the second disc come from outside the Universal archives. Along the way, all of the singer's U.S. Top 40 hits are included, though the collection was assembled with Palmer's input, which leads to alterations from the original recordings that fans might not be entirely pleased with. For a couple of earlier compilations, Addictions, Vols. 1 and 2, he used remixes of many of his well-known recordings, and those remixes have been retained here. He has also chosen to present three favorites -- "Johnny and Mary," "Riptide," and "Looking for Clues" -- as 2001 live performances rather than in their original studio recordings. Still, the selection is well-considered. The first disc is a good summation of Palmer's first eight Island albums, and the second disc demonstrates that not all of the second half of his career sounded like "Addicted to Love," that, actually, it was far more varied than the first half. There have been several Palmer compilations, but this one is the most comprehensive yet assembled.
Best of Both Worlds: The Robert Palmer Anthology (1974-2001)
Best of Both Worlds: The Robert Palmer Anthology (1974-2001) Review
by William Ruhlmann
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2
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